The Bitter Taste of Victory
A half-elven Sholai officer, dressed in half plate and chain.
Estrelesse is home to a multitude of mortal beings, and each individual species contains a multitude of cultural and racial variants. The Demon Wars brought together quite literally every culture on the continent to fight back the hordes of the Abyss; two millennia later, there are still families and enclaves of different-looking humans and elves living right next to one another, holdovers from those who settled down in strange lands.
Bottom line: You can be most anyone, and come from most anywhere, and look like most anything. The biggest differentiating factor is species, or "race" in the D&D sense. The following are the races that players have access to when constructing a character:
Numerous, powerful, and with cultures spanning back centuries, humanity is experiencing both the best and worst of its history. The Latona Republic, the reigning superpower, is a largely human nation—that just finished conquering its only remaining neighbor, the Sholai Confederacy. Humanity is peculiar for its diversity of governing philosophies; while the Republic is a magocracy, for instance, the former Sholai territories of Ilya and Anatolia were previously mercantile city-states with widespread but largely independent farming communities surrounding them.
Human technology is varied, especially due to the unwillingness of the Latona to share theirs with the rest of the world at large. Thoroughly Latona cities have paved highroads, highly refined metals, and streets lit with magic crystals, while outlying towns or provincial territories rely on dirt or gravel roads, iron tools, and charcoal or wood-fired braziers.
Elves have existed at least as long as humans have, with records of their participation in the Demon Wars. Their relative scarcity is a product of low birthrates and long lives, which make it difficult to keep up with the always-expanding mass of humanity. Even so, the territories that the elves so jealously guard have some of the most breathtaking examples of artistry and culture on the whole of Estrelesse. These elves come in three distinct variants:
The Green Elves (wood elves)
This is somewhat of a misleading title; most elven territories of any kind in Estrelesse are located in heavily wooded areas. Green elves are distinguished by their deeper cultural connection to nature and natural magic, as well as their heightened degrees of xenophobia toward other races. The only people they will remotely tolerate are other elves, and even then only during daylight. Any wanderers caught by green elf hunters after nightfall are fair game.
Green elves are most numerous in the forests of the Mera-Tev in Western Estrelesse, and Burwood and Ilya Provinces in Eastern Estrelesse, though they have never been partial to nation-building. They prefer a nomadic existence, traveling between hidden enclaves in massive caravans mounted on red harts.
The Grey Elves (high elves)
Grey elves are closer to their human neighbors in living style. They still live in places with heavy forest cover, but they construct permanent cities and dwellings, utilizing both the abundant wood resources and elven stonemasonry. Grey elves are much more feudal than the extant human realms, with Margraves and Margravines ruling over rigidly-defined "marches," and eventually subservient to a king or queen.
The major nations of the grey elves are the Twin Kingdoms of the East: Lindellin, the Forest of Swords in present-day Burwood Province, and Vordellin, the Forest of Shields, in Ilya Province. These kingdoms "negotiated" their independence after the fall of the Confederacy by controlling the Turabi Gate, and the Fenroad, the only overland trade routes between the two halves of the continent. Other grey elven nations have existed, but the western ones have largely been subsumed into the Republic's administrative structure.
Dwarves have existed on Estrelesse for only a short time. They are refugees from another land, and came to Estrelesse in a mass exodus called Landfall almost 250 years ago, traveling in the Forge-Arks, two vast seagoing vessels. They landed on the eastern coast, and promptly set about establishing themselves in this new world, creating the mountainhomes of Northforge and Southforge, each ruled by a prince of the Goldbrand royal family that piloted the ships.
In the short amount of time that they have spent on Estrelesse, the dwarves have accomplished staggering feats of engineering. They have access to steam power and coal-fired boilers, for one, and dwarven steam cogs are the fastest trading ships in the world. In addition, they have begun construction on the Deep Roads, a serious of underground highways that are branching ever outward. The only completed stretches thus far range from Southforge to Thar-calan in the south, and Northforge to Quessa in the north, but given the inhospitable conditions of the Greyghost Mountains and the Forsaken Lands, this has made travel to the dwarven citadels not just possible, but almost unbelievably easy.